Accepted Paper:

has pdf download The Tale of "Blue Bead": Traversing Controversy and Nationalism  


Murad Jalilov (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper long abstract:

The Fairy Tale "Blue Bead" is one of the most elaborate fairy tales in Azeri folklore. It tells a story of a supernatural boy, who is born as a result of his mother accidentally ingesting a blue bead, and his revenge against his uncle's killer. This fairy tale gives a glimpse into the familial relationships and duty in the Azeri culture of the time and features a non-traditional familial bond between an ogre (dev) and humans. It was first published by the Soviet-Azeri folklorist, who was a pioneer in his field, Hanefi Zeynalli in his book "Azerbaijani Turkic Fairy Tales" in Russian in 1935, where he draws similarities to the Armenian fairytale of "Kosa". The Azeri reprint of the fairytale with certain additions was published in 2006. "Blue Bead" is controversial both in Azerbaijan and Armenia due to its violent contents and profane language drawing widespread criticism from the media outlets in both countries. In Azerbaijan, it came under fire for being too profane and too cruel, while in Armenia it was criticized for the same reasons and was used to showcase the "immorality" of Azeri culture, despite the tale "Kosa" having a similar premise.

The analysis and rebuttal of this rhetoric are important to better understand the politics of folklore of post-soviet Azerbaijan and Armenia so as to conduct unbiased and credible research. It will significantly contribute to the understanding of the Transcaucasian folklore and the common identity between its peoples.

Panel REG-07
Regions and Imagination